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Of Betrayal and Betrothal—Aaina’s Double Bill

“Theatre is a mirror, a sharp reflection of society.” – Yasmina Reza

Expressing one’s thoughts, ideas, and emotions through live enactments is a form of entertainment that has remained popular in our society through the centuries. When coalesced with an appropriate crew, the performance can transport the viewers to a different time and place, while also conveying a unique message.

On 23rd August 2018, AAINA Dramatics’ first production of the year, Double Bill, truly captivated its audience and delivered to the expectations of the students who attended the event. Presented at the Library Auditorium, it involved two playsThe Brother’s Wife and Chuhal.

THE BROTHER’S WIFE

Playing loosely with the theme of women’s roles in society, the play was a murder mystery based off of the original script by dramatist Paul Howard Surridge. Directors of the play, Druti Singh, and Aditya Samadhia created their version of the composition that was directed at the students. Ridden with both scripted as well as unscripted humor, the drama struck a balance with its comedic reliefs and intense acting. As stated by actor Isha Apte, “The play is a classic murder mystery with complex characters and a script that is specifically targeted to the crowd we thought would watch it.”

The act followed the story of two brothers, Joss (Rakshit Yaduvanshi) and Rod (Gaurav Chatterjee) Taylor and their wives Penelope (Shivalika Chaudhary) and Mary Taylor. The sudden death of Mary, Rod’s wife, caused Rod to be the prime suspect in the murder investigation, while Joss and his wife Penelope, tried their best to get Rod out of the dire situation. Ginny Galgut (Astha Garodia), a close friend of Penelope’s, was a recurring character to mainly provide comedic breaks in an otherwise heavy play. The Head of the investigation, Inspector Collman (Shashank) served as the stern, unbending police officer with a no-nonsense attitude. Lastly, Suzie Severn (Isha Apte) was the assistant to Joss Taylor as well as his lover.

Gaurav Chatterjee’s performance as Rod Taylor was an impressive act. His command of the stage, as well as his intense portrayal of the character, enraptured the audience. Rakshit Yaduvanshi was admirable in his role as well. Though slightly stiff at the beginning of the play, he grew comfortable on stage and slipped into his role smoothly by the end. Shivalika Chaudary, though seemingly forced, managed to capture the essence of her character as the oblivious, loose-lipped wife. Ginny Galgut made the audience laugh and hoot throughout the show with her hilarious expressions and acting. Shashank, while thoroughly conveying his character, was short of the confidence that was befitting of an inspector. Isha Apte was definitely a crowd favourite with her seductive portrayal of Suzie. Her power on-stage drew the audience to her as she uncovered the different layers of her character in every scene.

The props and sets were simple but effectively added to the atmosphere of the play. Lights and sound were well handled with timely changes being made. The live band set the mood of each scene, be it humour or thriller, and played a big role in involving the audience in the play. Overall, the play was very well-received and set up a hot stage for the next one.

CHUHAL

This adaptation of the original play by Manav Kaul was definitely a contrast to the previous playwith its profound monologues depicting the struggles of society faced by two youngsters of marriageable age. The play set an introspective tone to the stage while highlighting the customary trials faced by a woman in the 20th century. Directors Prateek Singh and Varun Kapoor were successful in adding elements of humour while delivering both sides of the story of the two protagonists. They kept the audience engaged with their thought-provoking script and earned a good response at the end of their play. Assistant Director, Spandita Das Sharma said, “It’s a play set far ahead of its time. Every monologue speaks a lot about the people in our society.”

The performance mainly revolved around Aarti (Esha Poddar) and Sudheer (Maulik Jain) whose stories intertwine at Aarti’s house for a marriage proposal. The comical characters of Nimmi (Ayushi Mehrotra), Sudheer’s sister and Aarti’s mother, Maa (Shreyal Bansal) kept the stage alive with their banter throughout the play.

Esha Poddar as Aarti, played her part as an independent woman, unenthusiastic about the thought of losing her freedom to the cage of societal norms, particularly marriage. Her feminine poise on stage and the fluidity of her monologues was appreciated by the viewers. Maulik Jain portrayed his character Sudheer as a well-tempered middle-class school teacher, having the expected opinions of a man of his time. He delivered his dialogues with a mellowed exterior, adding to the depth of his character. Ayushi Mehrotra won the crowd over with the dynamism and her purposeful singing as she jested with Aarti’s mother, played by Shreya Bansal. Shreya was able to use her comedic counterpart, Nimmi’s, energy and managed to keep up the atmosphere of her scenes. The highlights of the play were the recurring supporting characters played by Nikhil Dubey, who received the most attention during his scenes. His demeanour and language on-stage cracked the audience up during the entirety of the act.

The sets for this play were well-planned, with even minute details being properly executed. Lights and sound were on par with the performance as well. The live band continued to do their part in keeping the audience’s attention on the enactments. The play was fairly open-ended, leaving the audience satisfied as they mused over the happenings of the drama.

The event finished up neatly and was enjoyed by all its attendees. The weeks of effort put in by the members of AAINA Dramatics definitely paid off as they began their year with a smooth start, increasing the expectations of the students who are anticipating their next production.

Picture Credits: The Photography Club, Manipal

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